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Project Title:

Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation
PIN: DEPS-ASEB-12-04        

Major Unit:

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Sub Unit: DEPS Aeronautics & Space Engineering Board

RSO: Angleman, Alan

Subject/Focus Area: Engineering and Technology; Space and Aeronautics

Project Scope
The National Research Council will appoint an ad-hoc committee to develop a national research agenda for autonomy in civil aviation, comprised of a prioritized set of integrated and comprehensive technical goals and objectives of importance to the civil aeronautics community and the nation. The elements of the recommended research agenda for autonomy in civil aviation will be evolved from the existing state of the art, scientific and technological requirements to advance the state of the art, potential user needs, and technical research plans, programs, and activities. In addition, the committee will consider the resources and organizational partnerships required to complete various elements of the agenda.

      In particular the committee will:

      1.   Consider the current context of research in autonomy relevant to civil aviation based on factors such as the following:

            a)   The current state of the art in autonomy research and applications (for example, national defense, space, automotive, and marine applications) by U.S. industry, NASA, DOD, FAA, other federal agencies, academia, and non-U.S. research agencies and organizations and the contributions that these organizations are making to pursue the development and application of advanced autonomy in relevant civil aviation systems, vehicles (both manned and unmanned), processes, and mission capabilities.

            b)   Current national guidance on research goals and objectives in autonomy in civil aviation.        

      2.   Describe the following:

            a)   The scope of the committee’s investigation in terms of the forms and applications of autonomy that the committee considered.

            b)   Contributions that advances in autonomy could make to civil aeronautics over the next 10 to 20 years through research that provides (i) a steady pace of incremental advances and (ii) credible, game-changing advances in current capabilities.

            c)   Technical and policy barriers to implementing advances in autonomy in operational civil aeronautics systems and how those barriers might be overcome.

            d)   Key challenges and gaps that a national research agenda in autonomy for civil aviation should address.

      3.   Outline a potential national research agenda for autonomy in civil aviation, as follows:

            a)   The research agenda should consist of a prioritized set of research projects that, if successful,

                  i)    would enable concepts of operation for the national airspace system where vehicles and systems with various autonomous capabilities are able to operate in harmony with each other and human operators/supervisors,

                  ii)   could lead to the development, integration, testing, and demonstration of advanced autonomy capabilities for vehicles and systems (both manned and unmanned), processes, and mission capabilities

                  iii)  predict the system-level effects of incorporating the above in the national airspace system, and

                  iv)  define approaches for verification, validation, and certification of new forms and applications of autonomy.

            b)   The agenda should be developed with due consideration of the resources and organizational partnerships required to complete the projects included in the agenda.

            c)   For each project, the agenda should, as appropriate, describe the potential contributions and role of U.S. research organizations, including NASA, other federal agencies, industry, and academia.

This project is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The project start date is 12/03/2012
The estimated report delivery date is 08/31/2014

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 07/10/2013
 Meeting 2 - 08/27/2013
 Meeting 3 - 11/13/2013
 Meeting 4 - 12/16/2013
 Meeting 5 - 01/30/2014


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office